Strategic Management Review > Vol 1 > Issue 2

Open Innovation: A Theory-Based View

Teppo Felin, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, UK, , Todd R. Zenger, David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, USA,
Suggested Citation
Teppo Felin and Todd R. Zenger (2020), "Open Innovation: A Theory-Based View", Strategic Management Review: Vol. 1: No. 2, pp 223-232.

Publication Date: 16 Jun 2020
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In this article:
Dysfunctions of The Open Funnel 
Firm-Specific Point of View Toward Openness 
Perception and Directed Search in Environments 
Implications for Strategy and Innovation 


In this short essay we argue that open innovation requires a point of view—a firm-specific theory. In competitive environments, openness is not a free and obvious resource: openness can be costly and requires a theory of what a firm should uniquely be open to. Openness is most effective when firms are not merely scanning or filtering the environment, but rather when they know what they are looking for—a critical distinction. Thus we argue that the commonly used funnel or filtering metaphor of open innovation—where the firm seeks to be more and more open to the environment—is misleading and problematic. Instead, openness should be conceived of as a directed activity: an activity directed by the theories, hypotheses, and problems of the firm. To use a metaphor, rather than increase the aperture, lens size, breadth, and overall capacity to be open to and absorb external factors (information, ideas, products, solutions), we argue that the best outcomes from openness emerge from a more targeted search- or flashlight approach. We conclude with a discussion of future directions building on this agenda.



Strategic Management Review, Volume 1, Issue 2 Special issue on Open Innovation
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.